Ghost story writer to stage ‘Jekyll and Hyde’

by Len Lear

Actor and playwright Josh L. Hitchens, artistic director of the theater at Allens Lane Art Center in Mt. Airy and author of “Haunted History of Philadelphia” has always loved the macabre.

He’ll show off his talents in the genre this weekend at the Ebenezer Maxwell mansion in Germantown, where he’ll stage a solo reading and performance of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” on Friday and Saturday. nights.

We caught up with Hitchens, who has lived in Philadelphia since leaving his home in Sussex County, Delaware to attend Arcadia University in Glenside, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2007 for a short Q&A session:

  • How, when and why did you become so interested in the macabre?

“Ever since I was little, I’ve loved scary stories and ghost stories. I’ve read Alvin Schwartz’s ‘In a Dark Dark Room’ and later his ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ series, as well than haunted history books and documentaries and TV series like “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” “Unsolved Mysteries” and The History Channel’s “Haunted History” My grandparents took me on my first ghost tour in Colonial Williamsburg when I was 8. I was absolutely terrified and also knew that was what I wanted to do when I grew up.

  • What is your favorite performance, and why?

“The show that brought me the most joy was my solo version of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. I’ve been playing it every December since 2011, and I love telling it. It’s so relevant in our time and always will be. It’s the only show I have to do every year, otherwise it doesn’t feel like Christmas.

  • How has the pandemic affected your life?

“For the best, despite all the darkness of those days. It gave me time to think about what I really wanted to do with my life. I spent the lockdown period writing my first book, “Haunted History of Delaware”, which was published in July 2021. And almost immediately after that I got a contract to write my second book, “Haunted History of Philadelphia”. Without the life hiatus demanded by the pandemic, I would not be a published author today. »

  • What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“When I was a theater student at Arcadia, I was fortunate enough to be taught by Grace Gonglewski, an extraordinary nationally acclaimed actress. When we were working on a moving scene, she would say, ‘That’s good work. , but does it cost you too much? Does that mean you’re tapping into painful emotions that you can’t safely use in theater?

  • What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?

“To eulogize my grandfather and attend the funeral of my uncle who passed away just before the pandemic started.”

  • Who has had the biggest impact on your life, and why?

“My high school acting teacher, Helen Barlow. She was the first person who ignited my love of acting.

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